A Reminder To Appreciate Nature

In my most recent newsletter, I mentioned that I've been learning to manage my depression over the last couple of years and how that has stifled my creative output. I received a beautiful and heartfelt email from my friend Brian after he read that. Brian and I have been in a band together, him singing his heart out trying to ignore my crazy stage antics, and we worked together managing a vineyard and property. The subject line of his message was Rember the Foxes and he reminded me to take the time to appreciate our natural world, and how it helps to heal us and can combat or even reverse the symptoms of depression and anxiety. After getting his email and reflecting on my time at the vineyard, where I was working in tandem with nature every day, I was inspired to write the piece below.

This is for Brian, a true friend, I'm glad to have you in my life.

Remember The Foxes

The crows live in thees on the mountain above the fence line 
They talk to each other all day long 
It’s their fault that it is never truly quiet out here 
Disrupters of the peace 
Brash, loud, insistent 
Constantly flaunting their intelligence 
Crows have language, loyalty, community 
They come to each other’s aid in times of distress 
They take no shit from the hawks, not even the ones paying them no mind 
Which seems unnecessarily asshole-ish 
Still, they behave better than many people 
We all can name a few 
And sure, the crows eat the grapes, then again, who doesn’t?
At least they’re clean about it, leaving no mess behind 
Not like those songbirds we all think of so fondly 
I don’t want them in the vineyard 
Pecking the berries, letting juice run all over the cluster 
They leave rot and disease behind 
Not as nasty as the deer to be fair 
But that’s what the fence is for 

Black snakes are some of my favorite people 
They don’t bother with anyone 
Simply chilling, just hanging out 
Keeping the place free from mice, rats, and other assorted vermin 
Rats are smart, I fostered one for a friend for a while 
He was cool, I would hand-feed him peanuts and pretzels 
He was good company but I wouldn’t want him living in the barn 
Tunneling under the floors, making nests inside the equipment 
Leaving mess and stink everywhere 
I’ll take the black snakes and a rodent-free workspace 

Sure, a snake will occasionally get in the rafters and eat a swallow’s egg 
I am sad on behalf of the swallow, but they don’t mind 
They are naturally suited to the cycle of life 
People often don’t want barn swallows and install spikes to keep them from roosting 
They do leave droppings
Piles of them under each nest 
And there’s not only one, or two, or a few 
Sometimes it’s a few dozen 
But I don’t mind sharing the space with them, it’s only for a few months anyway 
And you get used to the mamas and the papas zooming in and out 
Bringing food to their chicks 
After a while, you don’t flinch anymore 
The rewards for not evicting them are incalculable 
Watching them hunt while I’m mowing a field, dislodging insects from the grass 
It’s a sight to make you wonder if the laws of physics have been revoked 
The Flying Wallendas couldn’t hold a candle to the careening, cartwheeling aerial acrobatics of a barn swallow 

But the show stopper of the life tolerating our intrusion is the foxes 
They live in dens in the woods, out of sight, off-site 
Outside the perimeter of the vineyards 
Not like those greasy groundhogs 
Their burrows are amongst the vines 
Entrance holes in the row ready to break an ankle, or axle 
The foxes are far more polite 
Sometimes while doing tractor work I see them tooling around 
Going from one place to another 
The best days are the ones when the work is done in time to watch the foxes hunt 
It is for me the most peace to be found in the vineyard 

Me: still, quiet, unnoticed 
Them: stalking, prancing, dancing 

Hopping straight up into the air to avoid detection of unwary prey 
The graceful loping as they carry dinner back to the pups in the den 
Trotting on their toes, pleased with themselves and their success 
Disappearing back into the woods leaving me in awe of what I just witnessed 
A reminder that for all our striving to manipulate nature 
Bending it to our will for superficial monetary gains 
The crows, snakes, swallows, and foxes have a better way of being 

They don’t fight against the world 
They live in it 
With it 
They are beautiful for it 

In these moments all I can find to say is 

Thank You

Photo by Scott Walsh on Unsplash


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